Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (NIV)
It seems quite simple and straightforward to me. The commands are clear and easy to understand. At the beginning of the verses are the ways I should act towards other. It is followed by how I should respond to people who don’t follow these rules. Then there is the reward for doing it. Ok, next blog. Well, maybe not. If it were that easy, I’m sure there would be less conflict in churches and the world in general. Doing these things is a lot harder than knowing that I should do them.
Rom 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (NIV) I need to address pride and conceit in myself if I actually want to be able to live in harmony. I can’t be proud. I looked this up in the dictionary and it didn’t sound so bad. (Feeling pleased and satisfied, e.g. about having done something or about owning something.) Hmmm, shouldn’t I feel good about getting something done? That doesn’t sound so bad. However, I can see that pride of ownership can cause problems, especially when it makes others who don’t have the same things feel out of place or inferior. That’s a good one to work on. I don’t’ want to let my possessions cause others to be intimidated or feel that I think less of them.
Another definition of proud is arrogant (having an exaggerated opinion of personal worth or abilities.) Other versions of the Bible use the word haughty instead of proud. It comes from the Greek word is hupselos (hoop-say-los') which means loft (in place or character.) That seems to fit better, especially in context with the part about being willing to associate with people of low position. I don’t want to appear to be above them. Shoot, I don’t even want to think that I am above others. Romans 12:3 says that I should not think of myself more highly than I ought. Remembering that it is only by the blood of Jesus that I’m in God’s grace and not because of my own worth is a good way to help me from being proud, arrogant, or haughty.
It is also good to acknowledging God’s sovereignty. I didn’t choose where I was born, who my parents were, or any of my natural abilities. I remember talking to a man who was offended that I suggested that he wasn’t in control of his life. He assured me that he had worked hard for his wonderful house, job, education, and everything that he had. When I asked him if he chose where he was born or that he was born to white middle class parents, he essentially asked what that had to do with anything. He didn’t get it. Lord, help me to always acknowledge that everything I am and that I have comes from You!
Don’t repay evil for evil, etc. I think I’ve already gone over that. If not, well this proverb says a lot. Prov 19:11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (NIV) If I don’t overlook offenses, I’m pretty stupid. I want to do what pleases God and He says that I’ll be rewarded when I overlook offences. It takes patience to do that and that shows my wisdom or lack of it when I lose it. It’s hard, in the middle of a life situation, to keep my mouth from blurting out hurtful things before I think about them. That’s why it takes practice to hold my tongue. Ps 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips! (RSV) It also takes a dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Having the right attitude toward others and not seeking revenge will provide for me an inheritance that won’t fade or spoil. These are the treasures that I can store up in heaven.